Patriots Training Camp Notes: Rookie Kicker Shines In Simulated Game

Watch out, Nick Folk

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FOXBORO, Mass. — Friday night felt like game night at Gillette Stadium — until the opening kickoff.

With less than a week to go before next Thursday’s preseason opener against the Washington Football Team, the New England Patriots treated their ninth training camp practice — held inside Gillette Stadium — as a dress rehearsal of sorts.

They split their 90-man roster into two squads — a Cam Newton-led Team White and Mac Jones’ Team Blue — simulated a full pregame routine and treated the thousands of season-ticket holders and Foxboro residents in attendance to a non-padded, walking-pace scrimmage.

Rather than a first team-versus-scout team setup, head coach Bill Belichick went for parity, sprinkling each side with starters and reserves. He even divided the projected starting offensive line, with left tackle Isaiah Wynn and right guard Shaq Mason playing with Newton and center David Andrews, left guard Mike Onwenu and right tackle Trent Brown protecting Jones.

Here’s a look at the full rosters for both teams:

TEAM WHITE
QB Cam Newton
QB Jake Dolegala
WR Gunner Olszewski
S Kyle Dugger
WR Marvin Hall
WR Jakobi Meyers
S Devin McCourty
S Cody Davis
CB Dee Virgin
CB Michael Jackson
WR Nelson Agholor
WR N?Keal Harry
RB James White
RB Tyler Gaffney
RB Sony Michel
TE Hunter Henry
TE Matt LaCosse
FB Jakob Johnson
CB Justin Bethel
ST Matthew Slater
DT Montravius Adams
DT Bill Murray
OL James Ferentz
G Shaq Mason
OL Marcus Martin
OT Isaiah Wynn
OL Will Sherman
DE Deatrich Wise
DT Davon Godchaux
LB Dont?a Hightower
LB Anfernee Jennings
LB Brandon King
OT Jerald Hawkins

TEAM BLUE
QB Mac Jones
QB Brian Hoyer
RB J.J. Taylor
WR Isaiah Zuber
WR Tre Nixon
S Adrian Phillips
CB Joejuan Williams
DB Jalen Mills
WR Kendrick Bourne
WR Kristian Wilkerson
CB J.C. Jackson
DB Myles Bryant
CB Jonathan Jones
TE Jonnu Smith
TE David Wells
TE Troy Fumagalli
RB Damien Harris
RB Rhamondre Stevenson
C David Andrews
G Alex Redmond
OLB Rashod Berry
OT Trent Brown
OL Mike Onwenu
OT Yodny Cajuste
OT Korey Cunningham
DT Carl Davis
DT Lawrence Guy
LB Ja?Whaun Bentley
DT Nick Thurman
OLB Matt Judon
LB Josh Uche
DL Henry Anderson
LB Harvey Langi
OT R.J. Prince

Specialists Jake Bailey (punter), Quinn Nordin (kicker) and Joe Cardona (long snapper) wore black jerseys and played for both sides. (Kicker Nick Folk sat out practice for the second straight day, watching from the sideline in workout clothes.)

To simulate a normal game day, players went through their standard pregame schedule, with specialists taking the field first, followed by returners, then quarterbacks and wide receivers, then the rest of the roster. The teams warmed up separately, with Blue taking the north (lighthouse) side of the field and White getting warm beneath the stadium’s newly installed south end zone video board.

We even heard the familiar chords of “Crazy Train” and the rest of the Patriots’ usual pregame playlist.

Once the game began, Belichick put his players through various situations. The second possession for Jones’ team, for instance, began in the red zone. Each half concluded with dueling two-minute drills. Slater even tried to “ice” Nordin before a 22-yard field-goal attempt (unsuccessfully, as we’ll detail in a moment).

All the while, Belichick and former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia — back in a new role as a “senior football advisor” — watched from 15 to 30 yards off the line of scrimmage. Belichick stayed behind the offense. Patricia rotated between offense and defense. The rest of New England’s coaching staff was split between the two sidelines.

Some additional notes from Friday night’s “action”:

— He wasn’t facing a live kick rush, but Nordin had himself an excellent evening.

The undrafted rookie went a perfect 10-for-10 on field-goal attempts, hitting from 22, 29, 34, 35, 35, 48, 55, 57 and extra-point distance. This Michigan product’s leg strength is truly impressive — his 57-yarder might have been good from 65.

If Nordin can keep this up through the preseason, Folk could be out of a job.

— Hope you had Smith on your pseudo-scrimmage fantasy team. Jones hit the high-priced tight end for three first-half touchdowns, including two well-placed throws down the seam.

— Despite this being a non-competitive exercise, cornerback J.C. Jackson still managed to intercept one Newton pass and break up another. The pick came in the end zone on the final play of Newton’s first-half two-minute drill.

— Olszewski, Taylor and Hall handled punt-return duties. Taylor and Hall were the kick returners.

— The three referees were members of the Patriots’ player development department.

— A total of 18 players did not participate:

RB Brandon Bolden
S Adrian Colbert
C/G Ted Karras
DT Christian Barmore
DT Akeem Spence
LB Raekwon McMillan
WR Devin Ross
DB D’Angelo Ross
K Nick Folk

Physically unable to perform list:
QB Jarrett Stidham
CB Stephon Gilmore
TE Dalton Keene
LB Chase Winovich
LB Terez Hall
DT Byron Cowart

Non-football injury list:
LB Cameron McGrone
S Joshuah Bledsoe

Reserve/COVID-19 list:
TE Devin Asiasi

Colbert, who exited Thursday’s practice early, was a new absence, as was Bolden. Safety Cody Davis returned after sitting out Thursday.

Folk, Barmore, Keene, Cowart, Spence and Karras took in all or part of the game from the sideline. Keene and Karras both wore compression sleeves on their left leg.

— Jones was the last player off the field after practice, spending extra time speaking with Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

— This was the first time Patriots fans were able to watch their team inside Gillette Stadium since the 2019 wild-card playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans. The Patriots plan to have full capacity at home games this season after barring fans due to COVID-19 regulations in 2020.

“It was great to have the fans here today,” Phillips said after practice. “I missed out on them in my first year being here. We had the whole COVID and everything like that, so they weren’t able to come. But just seeing the fans here and now and just with the little capacity that we had, it was great to see. I know when it gets sold out, it’s going to be rocking.”

— The Patriots will be off Saturday before returning to their usual practice field Sunday afternoon. That practice is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. ET and will be open to the public.

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